I’m admittedly really bad about keeping track of the things I’m supposed to be doing at any given time. As a result, I work best when something (or someone) is in front of me, reminding me that I need to do something by a particular time; I usually don’t have a problem executing, but I’m … easily distracted.
As a result, I live and die with to-do lists. They keep me focused, they give me the next thing I’m supposed to be focused on.
I’ve tried a lot of them. I’ve tried GTD apps, simple to-do lists, to-do applications… while I’ve not tried all of them by any means, I’ve certainly hit a decent survey of them.
I like the idea behind Getting Things Done. In GTD, there’s a big emphasis on capturing information, then classifying it, then operating on it. Applications to help with it, though, haven’t really been very successful; the best of them for me has been ThinkingRock.
Honestly, though, I find myself using ThinkingRock as a glorified (and simple) to-do list. That’s suboptimal, because the GTD mechanism of capture-then-classify just makes it hard to use if it’s only a to-do list.
The best application I’ve found was actually part of GNOME 3: todo.txt. The It uses a simple (and well-known, and pretty bloody obvious) text file format to keep track of things to do, and basically wraps that text file in a tiny UI for GNOME 3.
Synchronize via Dropbox or some other cloud-based filesystem, and you’re rolling.
That’s awesome, but Windows doesn’t work well with it. (At least, not that I’ve found.) You can use Windows with it, of course, because it’s just a bloody text file, but I want something more integrated, more cross-platform.
However: Wunderlist is winning right now. It’s easier to work with in most respects, does everything simply, and is very well aimed at cross-platform; I wish that it had a desktop application (the notification mechanism would be nice) but that’s about it.
I’ll keep testing it out.
A reader pointed out – correctly – that Wunderlist is dead, replaced by Microsoft To-Do, itself a pretty decent app. He suggested checking out a page, “Top 11 Wunderlist Alternatives,” which seems pretty complete to me.